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Sunday, February 25

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Cubs Thu Dec 09 2010

Cubs Sign Carlos Pena

cubs.gifIt has been an interesting past few days in the Cubs rumor department. A handful of reports put the Cubs in a trade with the Texas Rangers for first baseman Chris Davis and relief pitcher Darren O'Day and other reports suggested the Cubs were interested in Adam LaRoche. After all the rumors were sorted out, a truth emerged: Jim Hendry signed power-hitting first baseman Carlos Pena to a one-year, $10-million deal. Pena, a 32-year-old who is coming off a down season, will fill a huge hole left by last year's trade of Derrek Lee.

Pena, who hits from the left side, hit only .196 last season, but still managed to hit 28 home runs and post a .325 on-base percentage, thanks to 87 walks. His numbers might have been better had he not been battling plantar fasciitis last year.

His power numbers have been solid since his breakout year in 2007 when he hit 46 home runs and drove in 121 RBIs. Throughout his career he has batted .241. It's hard not to believe that his horrid batting average this season was nothing more than a fluke contributed from injury. Even if he tried he probably couldn't bat .196 next year.

Reading people's comments throughout various Cubs forums, it looks like a mixed bag with fans. Some like the signing, others don't. I look at it this way: Hendry could've done worse. Adam LaRoche, Ty Wigginton and Chris Davis -- pass. This deal has the possibility of low-moderate risk with a high reward.

The main problem most fans have with this deal, myself included, is paying $10 million for just one season of Pena. The only possible explanation I have for that is Scott Boras is his agent. If it was anyone but Boras this deal would've cost less.

Another thing to consider is that Hendry is working with a limited budget. So this was the best option for the Cubs and Pena. It leaves the Cubs some wiggle room to go after another starter and a reliever and they aren't on the hook for more than a season. That's right; Hendry, who has been notorious for offering bad multi-year deals did it right this time with only a one-year contract. If Pena produces 25-30 homers and 80-100 RBIs with a halfway decent batting average, Hendry will be praised left and right. It also gives Pena the chance to showcase himself and if he has a decent year maybe the Cubs offer him an extension.

I honestly feel that this was the best deal possible for the Cubs. Maybe not so much money-wise, but Pena addresses a number of issues, first base being the most obvious, but he hits for power, has an above-average OBP and plays Gold Glove defense. I think Pena will do just fine with the Cubs and maybe better than expected. Playing at Wrigley should work out nicely for him.

Extra Innings: In a far smaller move last week, the Cubs re-signed infielder Jeff Baker to a one-year, $1.175-million contract. Also Bruce Levine of is reporting the team is in serious discussions with the Tampa Bay Rays about trading for starting pitcher Matt Garza.

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